The wars of the Moros

Trademark ownership is important in Spain. Numerous commercial names have evolved from family names, and because they often come from the same geographical area, the odds on duplications are high. We can however be reasonably sure that if in the same village two Garcías make wine, neither of them is likely to go to law about the use of the surname. But when we are dealing with international brands, as in the case of the two 'Moros', matters can be serious. This latest conflict, fought at a very visible level with no stone left unthrown, has attracted a lot of media attention.

It is frankly not easy to follow every twist and turn, but the lawyers of each side are doing very nicely indeed thank you.

In one corner is Carlos Moro (Matarromera and Grupo Carlos Moro) and in the other José and Javier Moro (Bodegas Emilio Moro, founded by their grandfather). Since one group was originally based in Ribera del Duero and the other in Rioja, there was no rivalry, but when Carlos Moro recently set up a new winery in Rioja, Emilio Moro decided the time had come to protect his territory. Neither did it help that Emilio Moro adopted for his advertising campaign the slogan, "In the wine world Moro means Emilio Moro."

As there is little possibility of peace in the short term, both belligerents need to be thinking about the broader implications in one of their most important markets - Britain. Although for the last few decades one single trademark registration was valid for the entire European Union area, Brexit will mean that a separate process will be required to guarantee commercial legitimacy in the UK.

So, with a bit of nifty footwork, one or other of the Moros needs to grab the opportunities currently available. A cursory online check shows that Moro Wines is available to be registered, as indeed are the titles Carlos Moro and Emilio Moro.

Quite an opportunity for anyone else even if there is no connection, and a small fee will secure the names for life. The possibility of anyone alleging ownership of the surname is remote. In Britain there are very few Moros.